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Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience

(2009) ** 1/2 G
76 min. Buena Vista Pictures Distribution. Director: Bruce Hendricks. Cast: Joe Jonas, Nick Jonas, Kevin Jonas, Demi Lovato, Taylor Swift.

/content/films/3466/2.jpgEverything you need to know about the Jonas Brothers you can learn by watching their concert movie: Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience. The power-pop teenyboppers purvey generically catchy tunes (if you don't believe a song can be both generic and catchy, have a listen) that are better than one might expect from what's essentially training-wheels rock for pre-teen couch potatoes. Brash Joe (the ladies man) mostly takes the lead vocal, but also occasionally busts out guitar or tambourine; Nick (the sensitive one) sings and plays guitar, piano, and drums; accessible Kevin (the easy-going one: vote him "most likely to be goofy") sings and plays guitar.

With an army of unreasonably emotional tween girls squealing until they nearly pass out, the Beatles vibe is already implicit without the early staged sequence that depicts—in chintzy homage to A Hard Day's Night—the brothers abandoning their towncar to run the rest of the way to their concert venue, screaming girls in pursuit. Of course, the Beatles didn't have the Disney Company to package them in an utterly un-spontaneous concert film, but then they didn't need the help. Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience joins footage from two venues on the "Burnin' Up Tour": the Honda Center in Anaheim, California and New York's Madison Square Garden. Joining the boys are special guests Demi Lovato (of Camp Rock, also starring the Jonas Brothers) and Taylor Swift (Joe's onetime girlfriend).

You're forgiven for feeling you're watching a plugged-in "Up with People." The G-rated movie offers coy and safe sexuality for swoony fans high on hormones. The naughtiest it gets is a winking moment in which the boys spray white stuff on the audience with their hoses—the white stuff is, um, y'know, foam. (Even this dirty joke is mitigated by the home video's behind-the-scenes extras, in which the boys test out their hoses like little boys innocently excited to get their first Super-Soakers.) The Jonases display an infectious energy as they stoke interactive singalongs and bound around the stage, going so far as to incorporate gymnastic stunts to stoke the crowd into a yet louder frenzy. It's all expertly and precisely choreographed to play to the audience and the cameras, which achieve fairly astonishing state-of-the-art concert photography.

Backed by four other rockers—and an all-girl string section—Joe, Nick, and Kevin tear through the better part of their catalog, especially in the home video "Deluxe Extended Movie" that adds thirteen minutes: "That's Just the Way We Roll"; "Hold On"; "BB Good"; "Goodnight and Goodbye"; "Video Girl"; "Gotta Find You"/"This Is Me" (with Lovato); the anthemic "A Little Bit Longer," with Nick behind a piano; "Hello Beautiful"; "Still in Love with You"; "Pushin' Me Away"; "Can't Have You"; "Should've Said No" (with Swift); "S.O.S."; "Burnin' Up" (with bodyguard/rapper "Big Rob" Feggans); and "Tonight." ("Love Is On Its Way" turns up as a Central Park music video.)

/content/films/3466/3.jpgWorshipped like gods, the boys rotely deign to let fans touch the hems of their garments while parading up and down their thrust stage. It's an unavoidable and off-putting element of their show, but what isn't unavoidable is the thick-with-irony moment during "Hello Beautiful" in which the boys literally put themselves on pedestals, rising out of the stage to tower fifteen feet above the crowd. Cool or a dick move: you decide. The concert footage is impressive, but the obnoxious fakery of the interspersed "behind the scenes" footage contributes to the group's pre-fab, post-Fab Four artificiality.

Writing that fakery even larger is the film's 3D gimmick, enhanced with visual effects credited to no less than five companies. As sunglasses and guitar picks fly, cello bows jut, and mics and pointing drumsticks thrust out of the screen, it's a sort of metaphor for the whole film (and the band it captures) to ponder which effects are "real" and which are manufactured in a computer. The fans won't care, enjoying this gift of a concert film until they're old enough to feel conflictingly jaded and nostalgic.

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Aspect ratios: 2.35:1

Number of discs: 3

Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1

Street date: 6/30/2009

Distributor: Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Hitting Blu-ray and DVD in simultaneous "Deluxe Extended Movie" editions, Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience gets a very impressive A/V treatment in its hi-def version. On Blu-ray, the film can be viewed either in its 3D or 2D form. To enjoy the former, use one of the four pairs of 3D glasses packed into the BD case, which recreates the effects as well as current home-video technology allows. The effects are probably not so exciting as to recommend the 3D version over the more colorful, clear and crisp 2D version, but if you're a tween planning to watch the movie until you have it memorized, how lucky are you to get both? And in the sound department, you get the high fidelity of a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround mix that's clearly a definitive presentation for this title. 

The extras are rather limited, but salivating fans will be grateful to have them. Bonus Songs include "Love Bug" (3:37, HD) and "Shelf" (4:22, HD).

The other special feature is a sickeningly pandering, heavily vetted, overproduced featurette called "Up Close & Personal with the Jonas Brothers" (15:08, HD). Narrated with "we're not worthy" unctuousness addressed by the boys to the fans, the piece depicts the tour's week of rehearsals in Toronto, including "stunt" training, and footage from the road including public appearances and a Rolling Stone cover shoot.

The Blu-ray combo package includes two other discs, one containing a DVD copy and the other a Digital Copy for ease of portable playback. And the disc is also enabled for BD Live, Disney style.

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

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